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Rebels in Sudan’s Kordofan attack vote centres

Sudan_-_Location_Map_(2011)_-_SDN_-_UNOCHA.svgSudanese rebels have attacked several polling stations in war-torn South Kordofan state during nationwide elections widely expected to extend President Omar al-Bashir’s 25-year rule.

Bashir, 71, who is wanted for alleged war crimes in the western region of Darfur, also faces rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) attacked “polling centres in the Habila district” in South Kordofan on Monday, said Al-Hadi Mohammed Ahmed, an official in the National Electoral Commission.

“There were three attempted attacks and they seized some polling material and closed three centres,” he told a news conference.

They also attacked two centres in the Abbasiya area, Ahmed said, adding that the Sudanese military repulsed all the attacks.

Before the election got under way on Monday, the government had said there would be no voting in one district of Central Darfur and seven in South Kordofan for “security reasons”.

But the SPLA-N and insurgents in Darfur have vowed to disrupt voting across the region.

Both the rebels and the country’s mainstream opposition are boycotting polling.

There was no immediate SPLA-N reaction to Ahmed’s comments.

Ahmed also said there had been problems with the election in other parts of the country unaffected by conflict.

Voting was suspended in 16 stations in one district of Central Darfur after it was found that “some ballot cards had not arrived”, he said.

In the central state of Jazira, “152 centres out of 1,818 didn’t open because of administrative errors in distributing ballot cards”, Ahmed said.

Voting at those centres will now start on Wednesday and last for three days.

In the capital Khartoum, the streets were quiet on the second day of voting.

Polling stations in the city’s Mayo suburb were quiet, with just a trickle of voters.

Ahmed said he has no turnout figures yet.

With the opposition boycotting the elections and 15 little-known candidates contesting the presidency, career soldier Bashir is seen as likely to win.

He seized power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup and won elections in 2010 marred by another opposition boycott and criticism that the vote did not meet international standards.

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